Lots of stuff in all three major sports today, and a few other notes as well.
As Joe Christenson points out in his blog on the Star Tribune's website, all of Jerry Kill's assistant coaches on the Gopher coaching staff got a raise this past spring. The raises were due to language in Kill's new contract that stated that his assistant coaches salary pool must be in the top six in the Big Ten. The biggest raises went to Defensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach Tracy Claeys who went from $346,800 to $600,000 and Offensive Coordinator Matt Limegrover who went from $341,800 to $550,000. Most of the other main assistants such as Jay Sawvel, Jeff Phelps and others are now making around $250,000 per year as well. Exact salary's are listed in the link above. Claeys and Limegrover got new three-year contracts with these raises, while all the other assistants got new two-year deals. As was stated above, the language in Kill's contract stated that the assistant salary pool was required to be in the top six of the Big Ten. However, it appears Norwood Teague and company are going beyond this:
2014 total staff pay for #Gophers is now $2.757M. Would have been 3rd in B1G last year.— BUT #ROITS (@MVofDT) April 23, 2014
Sorry, assistant coach pay, not total pay.— BUT #ROITS (@MVofDT) April 23, 2014
The 2014 NFL Schedule was released last night. Normally, we wouldn't care, but with the Vikings playing at TCF Bank Stadium this fall, it becomes a bit more interesting. The NFL and the U actually did get on the same page schedule-wise which is a benefit to both teams. There is only one weekend this season where the Gophers and Vikings will have back to back games on Saturday and Sunday. That lucky weekend is Homecoming weekend for the U. The Gophers host Northwestern on Saturday October 11th, in what is now 99.99% guaranteed to be a 11:00 AM kickoff, and the Vikings will host the Detroit Lions at Noon on Sunday October 12th. The Vikings will not have any night or weeknight games at TCF other than their two pre-season games in August. All Vikings home games at TCF Bank stadium are scheduled for noon kickoffs, except for the game against Atlanta on September 28th which will be a 3:25 kickoff.
Last week in the Nugs we brought you the story of former Gopher Football player Peter Westerhaus, whose career at the U was cut short by ulceritiive colitis. WCCO TV did a great piece on him this past week as it was announced that Westerhaus will receive the annual Courage Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation! Congrats Peter to getting through a horrible disease to regain control of his life and make the most out of it!
In other non-Minnesota football news, it looks like the 2014 Northwestern Wildcat season will be one to watch. A group of former Northwestern players is calling a press conference today to state that the school is interfering with the current players ability to form a union illegally, and are forming a 10-point plan to ensure that the experiences of these athletes aren't impacted by school governance. Yikes...
The Gophers seem to be wrapping up their 2014 class of recruits in the past few days. On Wednesday it was announced that 6'11" center Bakary Konate from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas committed to the Gophers and Richard Pitino.
Konate reportedly chose the Gophers over offers from Tulane, Texas A&M, and Creighton, and was at least wooed by Louisville for a time.
Then, late Wednesday night, this happened:
Zach Lofton (@ZachLofton) April 24, 2014
Lofton is a guard from Columbia Heights who played last season for Illinois State. He is expected to have to sit a transfer year, but will be ready to play in the Gophers backcourt in 2015-16. This fills out the six spots available in the Gophers recruiting class.
All is still quiet on the Gophers leaving early to go pro front, which is good. However, lots of former Gophers are in the news in both good and sad news. Patrick Reusse had not one, but two great Gopher Hockey articles this past week.
The first article was on former Gopher Forward Gary Shopek who died from esophageal cancer at the age of 51 last Sunday. Shopek was one of the last Gopher stars who came out of the old Minneapolis City conference playing at Minneapolis Henry.
Reusse's second great article was on former Gopher coach and radio broadcaster Glen Sonmor. Sonmor who turned 85 on Tuesday has been in poor health for some time, and is moving from MInnesota to live with his sister in Toronto. Reusse recaps some of Sonmor's great stories from his days coaching Minnesota. If you ever listened to the Gopher radio broadcasts in the early 2000s with Glen doing the color commentary, they were always a fun listen. In tribute to Glen, here is one of his more famous calls. one that will live in Gopher Hockey lore for a very long time:
Other Gopher Sports:
The Gophers will have a Siebert Field Lighting Ceremony Friday night prior to their 6:35 game against Penn State. The ceremony will honor long time Siebert Field advocate Sid Hartman! Sid will get to throw the switch to turn on the lights prior to the Gophers first night game in the remodeled Siebert Field. The Gophers will continue the weekend series with another night game Saturday and an afternoon game on Sunday.
After winning one of three games at #3 Michigan last weekend the Gopher softball team will play their last three home games of the season this weekend against Penn State. The teams will play at 6:00 Friday night, with a 3:00 game scheduled for Saturday and a 1:00 game on Sunday. The Saturday game will air live on the BTN.
The 8th annual Golden Goldys will be awarded next Monday night. The awards ceremony honors the Gopher athletes for their athletic and academic achievements over the past year. Athletic awards handed out include the male and female athlete of the year, the male and female rookie of the year, male and female breakthrough performances, men's team coach of the year and women's team coach of the year. The voting includes spring sports of 2013 (baseball, men's and women's golf, rowing, softball, men's and women's outdoor track & field and men's and women's tennis) and the fall and winter sports of the 2013-14 athletic year. Mike Grim will be the MC for the event, and the nominees for the above awards are as follows:
Best Female Team
Swimming & Diving
Best Male Team
In honor of Paul McCartney playing Target Field in August, and the rainy weather in the Twin Cities today, the GopherSports twitter feed posted the following picture of another famous concert a few years ago in the rain: